Joxer, Meg and Xena belong to
Universal, yada-yada-yada. Oy-is this really necessary?? We all know this spiel
by now. Sheesh!!
There be violence, sex,
and adult situations in this story, ladies and germs. If you're under 16, GO
AWAY. This is not meant for kids. My writing is a bit on the intense side.
THE GENESIS OF THIS PIECE
All right. As of this writing, I am
taking a break from working on my novel. I'm at the 100-page mark. I wanted to
take some time away from it so that I could go back, and make revisions before I
start on the next section.
For the last few months, I've been
criss-crossing the Net, checking out various fan-fiction. Pardon my bluntness,
but in the past, I've found much fan fiction I've read to be absolute garbage.
Even in the Xenaverse, I've read some really vile stuff from people that
obviously need to take some lessons in storytelling and grammar. I'm not trying
to elevate myself above other story-tellers. In fact, I'm my own worst critic,
and I've written some real shit in the past. But some of the stuff that I've
read from other people is...well...let's say I'd be embarrassed to have my name
attached to the work.
However, much to my surprise and delight, I have
also read LOTS of Xena fan fiction that is VERY well written. I have tremendous
respect for people who actually take the time to hone their craft. I have always
felt that a person's work is a reflection of them. I've always kept that in
mind, when someone is about to view my work. I look at it like this: you're
taking time out of someone else's life to look at your work. Don't waste it.
You're trying to make an impression on them.
Lucy Lawless couldn't have
said it better herself: "You always strive for excellence, because to aim for
anything else is a waste of life."
I wrote this piece mainly for fun. I
also wanted to test out some of my writing skills. The last time I wrote a piece
of fan fiction was 8 years ago-and that piece was a monstrosity that was based
on a Japanese cartoon I loved. It started out as a recreational piece. But while
working on it, I became obsessed with the idea of writing the best damn piece I
could. I was also seriously considering becoming a professional writer. So-this
piece of fan fiction became a test to see if I could pull it off. In the end, it
took 5 years, 5 drafts, and 1,600 pages combined to get it the way I wanted. The
final piece ended up being 315 pages. I think I went a wee bit overboard. But I
learned a LOT from this baptism by fire.
In the case of BRAVING THE
INNER STORM, I was concentrating on mood, and keeping the writing as spontaneous
as possible. Which meant that I had to write this thing FAST. And one draft
only, with some VERY minor revisions.
Also-being a fan of Joxer and Meg,
I was angry that I did not see stories involving them together-particularly in a
serious light. The only exception was Jim Kuntz's FANTASTIC piece, entitled
MEG'S. People, keep an eye on this guy. And Jim-if you haven't written a pro
novel, WHY THE HELL NOT?! You're a DAMN good writer!! GO FOR IT!!!
So-this piece is meant to take a more serious look at Joxer and Meg.
There are some lighthearted moments, but it's mostly a very serious piece. Xena
has only a few cameo appearances. This story is primarily about Joxer and Meg. I
see these two as soulmates. Two very lonely people who are two halves of one
Enough ramblings from me. I hope you like the piece. I welcome ANY
criticism, POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE. You can be as brutal in your criticisms as you
like. An artist HAS to be able to handle criticism, NO MATTER HOW NEGATIVE IT
One final thing-this is my first-AND LAST-piece of Xena fan fiction.
I was in a rare mood to write this piece. I doubt I'll have the time or desire
to do this again.
Joxer stumbled through the forest. The sides of his head pulsated in
The vision replayed itself in his head. Again and again. The knife
drawing out of Criton's chest. Thick, red black blood, dripping from its tip.
Criton, falling like a sack of potatoes onto the dusty earth.
of his...those dead eyes, boring into Joxer's soul...
And that goddamned
voice...that leathery face. That putrid breath of Criton's ripping through
Joxer's nostrils like an ax. His stomach churned ominously, as if in the midst
of a hurricane.
"You're just like me now, sonny-boy. Just like me. A
goddamned killing machine. Yeah boy, YEAH. A bad-ass, slaughter-happy,
"AAAAAAAAARRRGGGGGHHH!!!!!!!! SHADDUP!!!! SHADDUP!!!!
SHADDUP!!!! SHADDUP!!!! SHAAADDUUUUPPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
He drew his
sword, and swung it in a vicious arc. The blade embedded itself in a tree. Joxer
yanked at it repeatedly. But his sweaty hands couldn't get a firm grip. He
sprawled backwards, crashing hard into the leafy earth.
His dark eyes
darted back and forth. His heart hammered in his chest, pounding through his
ribcage as if were about to explode out. His throat began to constrict. His body
began to shake.
Oh, gods, not another panic attack!!
He rolled into a ball. Tremors
ripped though Joxer like tidal waves. Pain exploded through his brain in
violent, pulsating bursts. Huge drops of sweat rolled off of his face. His
throat constricted more. He began to gag.
rolled into the back of his head. And the whole world faded away into a white
Joxer slowly opened his eyes. He looked around him. It was
nearing night. Joxer carefully sat up. He felt very weak. His shattered nerves
pulsed throughout his body, causing his muscles to twitch.
Xena do this?! How in Tartarus does she do this?!
Joxer lifted a
trembling hand. He ran it through his hair. Joxer thought back to when he and
Armon raced off on Argo. They managed to leave Criton's foot solders behind.
After arriving in another town, Joxer told Armon to take Argo and leave. He also
told him that he didn't want Xena or Gabrielle to try and find him. He was going
into hiding for a while.
Hiding...well, that was something he was good
at. Joxer wouldn't have lasted this long if he wasn't good at running away and
Huh...some warrior...I suck at fighting and I'm a master at
Hiding from my godforsaken life.
He had been in
hiding in the forests for over a month now. Joxer had managed to trap a rabbit
or two, as well as an occasional fish. Yet, he had a hard time thinking about
food. All he could think about was that knife, tearing into Criton's chest. And
Armon. Ready to rip Joxer's heart out.
How did a moron like you kill
Well, even morons get lucky sometimes.
shook his head, willing the vision away. An involuntary shudder rumbled through
him. With a great effort, he slowly rose to his feet. Joxer erratically looked
"M-my helmet..." he muttered, his voice trembling. "M-My
Joxer spotted it, a few feet away. He walked over to it.
Joxer bent over to pick it up. Suddenly, a wave of dizziness swirled into his
head. He fell face-first into the ground, clumps of dirt and grass forced into
his mouth. He coughed violently, spitting out muddy brown and green chunks of
earth. Joxer rolled onto his back. He slowly sat up, legs spread, on the ground.
He looked up into the starry heavens. The sun had just gone below the horizon.
Blades of grass hung from his mouth. His lower lip quivered.
happening to me...?" he whispered.
Joxer reached over, picking up his
helmet. He stared at it, studying every dent, every scratch. Then he remembered
Xena and Gabrielle.
Joxer knew that Xena and
Gabrielle were looking for him. But he didn't want to be around them. He felt so
small, so insignificant. Joxer had run into an occasional friend or two, and
they told him that Xena and Gabrielle were desperate to find him. But Joxer
harshly demanded that they not say a word to them about his whereabouts. He
wanted to be alone.
And the last time he spoke to a person he knew was 3
Joxer looked at his hands, his clothes. He was filthy. He
smelled terrible. He hadn't bathed in over a week. And Joxer didn't really seem
to care. About anything and anyone. Least of all himself. He felt a depression
he had never known creep into his soul.
The floodgates opened. And Joxer
screamed into the night. He fell onto the ground, sobbing uncontrollably.
He didn't know how much time had passed. He didn't even know
when he had started walking. But there he was. Joxer the Mighty. A mighty
NOTHING, he thought heatedly. He felt very, very weak. He hadn't eaten in almost
3 days. And he didn't care to. He mumbled to himself incoherently.
"..some warrior...bullshit...fighting wrongs...singing stupid songs..."
He tripped over a root, ramming head first into a tree trunk. The
resounding clang echoed throughout the forest. Joxer dropped back into the
ground with a loud thud. Pain roiled through his head. He lifted it, and saw he
was at the outer edges of a town. He could make out lights in some of the houses
before him. But the pain was getting to be too much. He couldn't focus. His head
fell back against the ground.
He stared into the star-filled sky.
Slowly, he felt the familiar veil of unconsciousness begin to take over. Then he
heard footsteps. And several voices. Female voices. One of them was very
"Dunno...hey-I think I know this guy!"
A shuffling of feet. Joxer felt someone kneel near him.
gods..." the voice whispered. "It's Joxer!!"
instantly recognized that last voice. He tried to speak.
A tall form was instantly at his side. He felt his head being
lifted, and placed in a soft lap. A hand was caressing the left side of his
face. The last thing he saw were two pale blue eyes, staring at him in fright.
The silhouette of her angular face shone in the harsh moonlight. Her dark hair
caressed his other cheek.
"Joxie..." she whispered.
strained to keep his eyes open, but it was a losing battle.
Then everything went black.
opened his eyes. He found himself in a bedroom, lit with several candles. And it
looked familiar. He suddenly recognized it. It was Meg's bedroom.
slowly sat up. Suddenly, a vicious explosion of pain ripped through his head. He
clutched the sides of it and let out a loud, strangled moan. Joxer gripped his
hair, pulling at it with all his might.
The door to the room instantly burst open. Meg rushed inside. Her eyes
were wide with fright.
She was at his side in a
second, and took him into her arms.
"What is it honey?! What's wrong?!"
Joxer's face contorted in agony.
head...it's...it feel's like it's gonna explode..."
looked out towards the entrance, her blue eyes ablaze.
a basin of cold water in here!! Now!!"
"Okay Meg, okay!!" came a
voice from beyond the door. " I'm on it!! Jazmine, where's that basin?!"
Meg turned her attention back to Joxer. Her heart broke at the sight of
Joxer's agonized expression.
She held him close,
kissing him on the top of his head and whispering soothing words into his ear.
Meg rocked Joxer slowly, comforting him as if he were a child. She tenderly
stroked his head. Within moments, three women rushed into the room. One of them
carried a basin full of water. Meg abruptly looked up.
"Put it here Jaz,
next to the bed."
Jazmine wasted no time in placing it on the table next
to Joxer's bed. Another woman rushed up to Meg, offering her a cloth.
"Dip it in the basin, Matlida. Then give it to me."
Matilda did as she was told. Meg gently laid Joxer back on the bed. The
woman handed Meg the cold, wet cloth. She folded it and placed it on his
"He looks terrible." remarked the third woman.
Meg shot her an icy stare. Fear shot up the woman's spine. That glare,
so much like Xena's, she thought...
Jazmine elbowed her hard in the
ribs. She gasped in pain, turning to face Jazmine.
"Shaddup, will ya Stella?!" Jazmine hissed through clenched teeth. "Does
he hafta know?!"
Jazmine grabbed Stella roughly by the
arm, yanking her outside.
"G'wan! Git outta here!!" she whispered
Stella eyed Jazmine, full of guilt.
"I'm sorry, Jaz,
Jazmine closed the door in her face. She shook her head.
"It's...all right..." gasped Joxer slowly. "She's
right...I feel...worse than I look."
"Just relax, sweetie." said Meg.
"Don't talk. Just rest."
Joxer slowly turned to Meg. He smiled weakly.
Meg returned the smile.
swallowed hard. Then he spoke
"I'm glad you're here."
Meg felt a
tear trickle down her cheek. She tenderly stroked Joxer's face, and leaned close
"I'm not planning on going anywhere." she whispered.
"I'll take care of you."
"You need anything else, Meg?" asked Jazmine.
Meg turned towards her.
"Yeah. Some soap and a towel."
She turned back towards Joxer.
"Ya gotta clean up. When was the
last time you...?"
Joxer lowered his head in shame.
"S'okay. It doesn't matter. As long as you're safe."
Meg turned to the two women.
"Remember-not a word that
Joxer's here. Got that?"
The two women nodded.
"You got it."
"That includes Xena and Gabrielle." Joxer said suddenly.
"I don't want them to know, either."
Meg turned towards Joxer,
"What? B-But don't you-"
"I said no."
Joxer's voice was cold as steel. His dark eyes were hard. Meg and
the other women felt a pang of fear at his tone of voice. Meg hesitated a moment
before she spoke.
"Um...o-okay. If that's what you want."
"Uh-we'll be going now, Meg." said Jazmine. "C'mon Matilda, let's go."
The two women left, closing the door behind them. Meg stared at Joxer in
"Why don't you want Xena and Gabrielle to know where you
Joxer sighed slowly.
"I...I just don't, Meg. Not now...I-I
wasn't planning on seeing anybody but..."
He looked into Meg's deep-blue
eyes, which were full of concern and love. Joxer let out a tired smile.
"...but I'm glad you found me. I thought I wanted to be alone,
but...after seeing you, I don't want to be alone anymore."
warmly. She placed her forehead against Joxer's.
"Ya won't be." she said
Joxer sat in the large tub. Meg sat behind him, soaping
his back. Meg felt the extreme tension rippling through his back muscles. She
peered around, looking at his profile. Joxer stared ahead, almost emotionless.
Meg did not like this at all. Joxer was usually joking, being playful. Meg
enjoyed the childlike aspect of his personality. This was something totally
different. That Joxer was gone. This one...this one actually was scaring her.
"Tell me about it." Meg said quietly.
"About what?" Joxer
replied almost absently.
Meg averted her eyes for a moment, afraid to
speak. But she did so, anyway.
"About...you know. Criton."
shot through Joxer's face. Meg felt as she had just stabbed herself.
"You know, huh?" Joxer asked in a small voice.
Meg hung her
Joxer sighed. He moved back against the edge of
the tub. Meg moved around to his front. She gazed at him with sympathy.
"I heard you were trying to defend Gabrielle."
Joxer bit his
lip. He looked at the ceiling.
"Um...y-yeah. I heard someone coming
towards me. I turned around. It was Criton. He-he was coming at me, and-"
Joxer stopped. He looked down at his hand. It was trembling.
He lowered his head, and began to cry. Meg
instantly moved up to him, wrapping her arms around Joxer tight. She buried her
face in his hair and kissed him on the top of his head.
"Let it out..."
she whispered softly into his ear. "Let it all out. Just cry."
did. He let down his defenses, and began to cry bitterly. Meg held him tight,
rocking him gently in the tub, whispering soothing words into his ear. Tears
came to Meg's eyes. She hated to see Joxer suffer. It tore her up. But Meg knew
she had to be strong for him. He needed a friend. She kept rocking him gently,
kissing him, whispering soothing words. Finally Joxer stopped crying. He looked
at the water in shame.
"I'm...worthless." he mumbled.
quickly placed a hand under Joxer's chin. She glared at him, her blue eyes
"No you're not." she said harshly.
"Meg, my whole life
is a lie. I'm not Joxer the Mighty!! I'm some stupid, worthless wanna-be-"
Meg clutched Joxer by the chin, her blue eyes boring into his. Joxer's
eyes widened in fear.
"You...are....not... worthless." she hissed
through clenched teeth. "I don't ever want to hear you say that about
yourself again. You got that?"
Joxer sighed. He trembled with tension.
"Then what am I? Tell me Meg, because I don't know anymore!!"
Meg released Joxer's chin. Her face softened.
mighty because of what you got in here."
Meg placed a finger on
his chest. She wiped away the hair from Joxer's eyes with her other hand.
"You got a big heart, Jox. That's rare. That's what makes you mighty."
"I don't feel mighty."
"You are to me."
Meg placed her
forehead on his and tenderly kissed his lips. Meg ran her tongue along Joxer's
lips, gently requesting entrance. But Joxer wouldn't open his mouth. Meg took
the hint. She pulled away slightly, searching his eyes.
"When's the last
time you had food, Jox?"
"I-I don't remember...3 days ago...?"
Meg's eyes widened in shock.
meekly. Meg shook her head. This wouldn't do at all.
"C'mon. I'm gonna
get some food into you."
"Meg, I'm not hungry."
"That wasn't a
Joxer looked up. Meg looked at him with a disapproving
stare, her blue eyes cold. She had her arms crossed.
"G'wan." she said
flatly. "Let's go."
Joxer opened his mouth, but Meg narrowed her eyes,
daring him to protest. He sighed, and smiled.
broke into a smile. She took Joxer by the hand, and lead him the edge of the
Joxer bit into the chicken leg, ripping off a huge chunk of
meat. He swallowed it, downing it with some port. Putting down the port, he
attacked his meal again with a vengeance. Meg sat nearby, smiling.
not hungry, huh Jox?"
Joxer looked up from his meal. He smiled
sheepishly, a piece of chicken hanging from his mouth.
Meg raised her eyebrows, pointing to her bottom lip.
Joxer looked at her quizzically.
He wiped the chicken bit off his mouth with a napkin. Then he stabbed a
juicy tomato with his fork, taking a large bite out of it. Meg lowered her head.
"I've been really worried about you." she said quietly.
chewed thoughtfully. He looked at Meg with sympathy. He swallowed and spoke.
"I'm sorry, Meg. I didn't mean to put you through this."
looked up, eyeing Joxer sadly.
"Jox, it wasn't your fault."
Joxer laid down his fork. He suddenly found the patterns on the table
cloth very fascinating.
"Then why do I feel so bad?"
Meg got up.
She took her chair, and put it alongside Joxer's. Meg sat down again. She placed
a hand underneath his chin, and turned it to face her. Joxer looked into her
large blue eyes, seeing the pain and pity in them.
"Jox, you were just
"I didn't want to kill him, Meg. I didn't!"
Meg smiled sadly.
"I know you didn't. I know."
back. His dark brown eyes scanned the ceiling.
"This...past month has
been really rough, Meg. I've just been wandering and wandering. I-I've been
thinking about my life. Thinking about how stupid and confused I was. Why in
Tartarus did I convince myself I was this great warrior? I thought there was
glory in this. There ain't! When I killed Criton, it's like...it's like I really
saw things for the first time. How they were. And I saw myself, how I really
was. And I wanted to puke."
Joxer lowered his head.
Meg bit her tongue. Misfit. These words sounded all too
Just how I see myself...she thought.
silence lingered in the air for a few moments. Meg sighed, and looked up.
"Jox, I want you to stay here a few days."
immediately shot up.
"No Meg. I can't do that."
grabbed Joxer's shoulders.
"Joxer, please. Please stay with me-"
"Meg, I can't! It's bad enough those bounty hunters are after me. If
they hurt you..."
Joxer's face contorted in pain at the thought. He
placed a hand on Meg's face.
"...if they hurt you, I'll never forgive
Meg took Joxer's hand, and kissed it. She looked at Joxer with
"Jox, you'll be all right here. Nobody's going to find
you here. Besides, no bounty hunters have been through here in 3 weeks. Back
then, yeah. They came here looking for ya. But it's been quiet since."
There was a knock at the door. Meg turned towards it.
"Hey! C'mon in!!"
door opened. Joxer's eyes almost popped out of his head. His jaw dropped. A
gigantic woman stepped into the room, ducking her head as she did so. The woman
was over seven feet tall, and was massively built. Joxer gulped, seeing the
awesome power that ran through her muscles. Joxer could swear that this woman
was a gladiator. The woman smiled at Meg.
"Hey kid. This your friend
Meg blushed slightly.
"Yeah, he is."
woman walked over to Joxer. He trembled, despite himself.
The woman chuckled heartily. She reached down,
offering Joxer a massive hand.
"Hey Joxer!! Name's Maria. Don't worry. I
Joxer hesitantly reached up. The woman grasped his hand
gently, shaking it.
"Don't worry. Any friend of Meg's is a friend of
mine. Meg's like my kid sister. I watch her back. And I'll watch yours. You
ain't got a thing ta worry about."
Joxer sighed slightly. He felt
"Um...how do you know Meg?"
"Old friends, actually. We
go back a few years. But we can talk about that another time."
turned towards Meg. Her face turned serious.
"You don't hafta worry
about a thing. I'll let ya know if anything weird comes up."
at her friend in gratitude.
Maria turned towards
Joxer, her hazel eyes turning into ice.
"I ain't gonna let anyone hurt
ya, Jox. That bastard Criton had it coming."
Joxer nodded slowly.
"I, uh... I really don't
wanna talk about Criton, if ya don't mind."
Joxer lowered his head in
shame. Maria looked at Meg, puzzled. Meg's face was somber.
Joxer's first kill." she said quietly.
Maria's eyes widened in
understanding. She pouted, turning her eyes on the dejected man sitting before
her. She laid a massive hand on his shoulder.
"You poor guy...I know
what you're going through."
Joxer raised his head, eyeing Maria
Maria raised an eyebrow.
"I was a
Joxer's brows knitted in pity.
"When you're rested, we'll talk. You're going through nightmares and
Joxer lowered his head.
"Bad ones, huh?"
Joxer nodded slightly.
"Yeah. Pretty bad."
"You speak to anyone about it?"
for a month. I really didn't want to be around anyone. I...I just felt, and
still feel...so ashamed of myself..."
Maria squeezed his shoulder
slightly. Joxer looked up at her.
"Then I'm glad we found you." said
Maria. "You spent enough time alone. Maybe too much time alone. You need to be
around friends now."
Meg turned towards Joxer.
"So that settles
it Jox. You're staying."
"Meg, I don't want to be in the way-"
"You're not in the way." she said with finality. "You need help,
and yer gonna get it."
Meg stood up, gazing down at Joxer. She crossed
her arms, lifting an eyebrow.
"How about it?"
help but smile. He was really touched. He raised his hands.
Meg and Maria smiled.
"Good choice." said Maria.
She turned to Meg.
"It's late. I'm off ta bed."
"Night, Maria. Thanks."
Maria ruffled Meg's hair
"Get some sleep, kid. Night Joxer."
Maria left the room. Meg turned to Joxer. She could see the bags under
his eyes. She lifted a hand to him.
Joxer rose. He blew
out the table candles, and walked over to Meg, grasping her hand. She led him to
the bed. Joxer flopped down heavily onto it. Meg lay aside him, snuggling up to
"Wow..." Joxer sighed. "A real bed. I can't remember the last
time I was in one of these...."
"Get used to it." Meg purred softly.
"Yer gonna be here for a while. Get some rest."
She moved over Joxer,
and lowered her lips to his. Her tongue gently pushed against his lips, asking
for entrance. Joxer relented this time. Their tongues slowly swirled around each
other. Meg moaned softly. The kiss lasted for a few moments. Meg reluctantly
pulled back, kissing him on the forehead. She then lay next to him, nuzzling his
"Yer gonna be all right." she whispered. "I promise."
held her hand over his chest. He stared at the ceiling. He was afraid. Afraid of
sleep. No, terrified. Terrified of the nightmares that would surely come.
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